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TOTALLY LIKE WHATEVER, YOU KNOW? By Taylor Mali 



 
In case you hadn't noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you're talking about? 

Or believe strongly in what you're saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s 

have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences - so-called 

because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true 

as opposed to other things which were, like, not -

have been infected by a totally hip 
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know? 

Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this; 

this is just like the word on the street, you know? 

It's like what I've heard? 
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay? 

I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction? 

Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say? 

Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know? 

That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . . 

whatever!

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness 

is just a clever sort of . . . thing 

to disguise the fact that we've become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation 

to come along since . . . 

you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you, 

I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it. 

Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY. 

You have to speak with it, too.
 

WHEN THEY SLEEP 



All people are children when they sleep.
There's no war in them then.
They open their hands and breathe
in that quiet rhythm heaven has given them.
 
They pucker their lips like small children
and open their hands halfway,
soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters.
The stars stand guard
and a haze veils the sky,
a few hours when no one will do anybody harm.
 
If only we could speak to one another then
when our hearts are half-open flowers.
Words like golden bees
would drift in.
-- God, teach me the language of sleep.
 
~Rolf Jacobsen

LOOK IT OVER by Wendell Berry 















Received a letter from Dad today,
poetry enclosed, as is his habit:

"Here's a poem by the Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry.
It may be almost the perfect poem for me,
so I wanted y'all to read it too..."


LOOK IT OVER


I leave behind even
my walking stick. My knife
is in my pocket, but that
I have forgot. I bring
no car, no cell phone,
no computer, no camera,
no CD player, no fax, no
TV, not even a book. I go
into the woods. I sit down on
a log provided at no cost.
It is the earth I've come to,
the earth itself, sadly
abused by the stupidity
only humans are capable of
but, as ever, itself. Free.
A bargain! Get it while it lasts!

SAGUARO by Brenda Hillman 
















Often visitors there, saddened  
by lack of trees, go out  
to a promontory.

Then, backed by the banded  
sunset, the trail  
of the Conquistadores,

the father puts on the camera,  
the leather albatross,  
and has the children

imitate saguaros. One
at a time they stand there smiling,  
fingers up like the tines of a fork

while the stately saguaro  
goes on being entered
by wrens, diseases, and sunlight.

The mother sits on a rock,  
arms folded
across her breasts. To her

the cactus looks scared,  
its needles
like hair in cartoons.

With its arms in preacher  
or waltz position,  
it gives the impression

of great effort
in every direction,  
like the mother.

Thousands of these gray-green  
cacti cross the valley:  
nature repeating itself,

children repeating nature,  
father repeating children  
and mother watching.

Later, the children think  
the cactus was moral,
had something to teach them,

some survival technique  
or just regular beauty.
But what else could it do?

The only protection  
against death
was to love solitude.

YOU DON'T KNOW ME by Cindy Walker 



You give your hand to me
And then you say "hello"
And I can hardly speak
My heart is beating so
And anyone can tell
You think you know me well
But you don't know me

No, you don't know the one
Who dreams of you at night
And longs to kiss your lips
And longs to hold you tight
To you I'm just a friend
That's all I've ever been
'Cause you don't know me

For I never knew the art of making love
Though my heart aches with love for you
Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by
A chance that you might love me too

You give your hand to me
And then you say "goodbye"
I watch you walk away
Beside the lucky guy
No, you'll never ever know
The one who loved you so
Well, you don't know me

For I never knew the art of making love
Though my heart aches with love for you
Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by
A chance that you might love me too

You give your hand to me
And then you say "goodbye"
I watch you walk away
Beside the lucky guy
Oh, you'll never, ever know
The one who loved you so
Well, you don't know me